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Shapiro & Appleton

Rail Gates Must Be Respected, California (CA) Accident Shows

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My focus on railroad injury law requires me to spend time each time day scanning the Web for news stories regarding injuries involving rail workers, train passengers and collisions between trains and cars, trucks or pedestrians. Too often, I come across stories like the one about Orange County, California (CA), brothers who became critically injured after they drove around rail crossing gates and got hit by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train.

This description of the accident from the Los Angeles Daily News bears quoting as an introduction to the following video: "A 3,700-ton Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway train was eastbound at about 45-50 mph when it slammed into the black BMW headed south across the tracks at the rail crossing."




My colleagues and I have written repeatedly about the necessity for rail operators to install, maintain and consistently use gates, warning lights, stop signs, crosshbucks and other safety devices to alert motorists and pedestrians to the actual or possible approach of a train. BNSF appears to have taken all of these precautions in this case, and still the brothers drove into the path of the train.

Drivers and pedestrians must heed warnings about approaching trains -- both under the law and as a matter of self-preservation. With Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, CSX and, soon, Tide train tracks crisscrossing all the cities of Hampton Roads, rail crossing safety is an ever-present and ever-growing concern. When people drive or step in front of trains, the result can only be serious injury or death.

EJL
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